Longtime leaders Martin, Duncan say farewell to Springfield commission

Dec 25, 2017
City Commissioners Dan Martin and Karen Duncan listen to city staff discuss the medical marijuana moratorium earlier this year. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF

Two politicians who spent decades in office said goodbye to Springfield city government last week.

Dan Martin and Karen Duncan’s terms will end when two new city commissioners are sworn in on Jan. 2.

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Martin, who was elected to five terms and spent 20 years in his seat, lost his re-election bid in November. Duncan, who served three terms and 12 years in office, didn’t run again.

Both have been community servants who put the city first, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said.

“We haven’t always agreed but both of them have attempted to vote for what they thought was best for Springfield,” he said. “I have great respect for both for doing that.”

The commission will have two new members beginning next month, the first change to the city’s five-person governing body in eight years.

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Incumbent City Commissioner Joyce Chilton and challengers Rob Rue and David Estrop won in November. They will join Copeland and longtime Commissioner Kevin O’Neill.

Commissioners earn an annual salary of $10,750. They oversee a government that serves about 59,000 people with a $43 million annual general fund budget and about 570 employees.

Both Duncan and Martin spoke out about their time on the commission during their last meeting on Dec. 19, including thanking staff for their hard work.

Martin, the only Republican on the commission in recent years, often was in the middle of breaking a tie vote. During his two decades, the city saw two new downtown hospitals built, as well as a major capital campaign that constructed a new ice arena, baseball stadium and aquatic center.

“They provided a major boost to quality of life in our community,” he said.

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It’s possible Martin may run for office again in some capacity, he said. He thanked volunteers who worked on his campaign, especially his family.

“They re-affirmed that if we want to do this again, they’ll be with me,” Martin said. “I appreciate all their help, support and their patience.”

Duncan mentioned several accomplishments during her tenure, including improvements to local trails and Springfield’s transit service. She also was honored with the Equality Springfield Karen Duncan Ally Award for her work in fighting for the rights of LGBTQ residents in Springfield.

Duncan plans to continue fighting for issues in the city as a concerned citizen, she said, similar to two longtime attendees at commission meetings, Springfield residents Raymond Upshaw and David Sanford.

“Think about that,” she said. “Upshaw, Sanford and Duncan.”

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She also gave advice to incoming commissioners Rue and Estrop, including remembering to put people with no real voice first.

“Remember why you’re here,” Duncan said. “You’re charged with weighing information and making decisions based on what’s best for all the people of Springfield. I hope that you will not make decisions based on what will advantage you or your friends and family. Deciding to vote yes or no because there is an economic or social advantage to you is simply wrong. It’s in large part what’s wrong with politics today.”

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